Sir Robert Baden-Powell once said: “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”
So for one month from Thursday 21 January to Sunday 21 February, that’s exactly what Scouts and Cubs across South Africa did.
Each year the late leader, who founded the Scout movement, is honoured with a celebration. This year, however, things were done a little differently.
The 1st Muizenberg Scout group leader, Angela Lee-Wright, explains: “He founded Scouts in 1907. Every year on his birthday, the Cubs and Scouts will wear their uniform to schools all over the country to show their Scouting pride. The closest Sunday to his birthday is called BP Sunday and the Scouts all over the Western Cape meet at a venue to celebrate achievements throughout the year. We cannot do so this year due to the pandemic.”
Adhering to the lockdown regulations, it was decided the Better World for BP black bag waste pick-up challenge would be held in its place. So Scouts groups took up the challenge to rid the environment of harmful waste in honour of Baden-Powell.
“We have had a month to get the group together to start picking up rubbish all over our neighbourhood. The challenge is set as follows: get outdoors, take a walk around your neighbourhood and collect and dispose of at least one black bag of rubbish per Scout member in your family before Baden-Powell (BP) Sunday to qualify for the ‘Better World for BP’ badge,” explains Lee-Wright.
The group had 16 Cubs and 20 Scouts pick up litter in Zandvlei, Lakeside, Marina da Gama and Capricorn. “These numbers include leaders as the challenge is aimed at everyone involved in the movement,” says Lee-Wright.
Cub Sabastian Rouse says the amount of litter picked up in the few areas they worked was stomach-turning. “It is shocking that it only took one hour to fill a whole bag. I found dirty broken clothing, about 15 empty beer bottles, Styrofoam cups, straws, plastic lids, cigarette boxes and so much more. These were just dumped. I prevented a lot of plastic from going into our sea, possibly killing our sea creatures, because they think its food and eat the plastic,” he says.
For the duration of the collection period, the 1st Muizenberg Scouts noted that Styrofoam packaging and toilet paper were some of the most commonly found items. The group are proud of their 40-bag achievement as at the end of the challenge on Sunday 21 February.
The Scout movement focuses on leadership development and good citizenship. It encourages children to take responsibility for their environment.
In true Baden-Powell spirit, Sabastian suggests: “It also crossed my mind that we should do this more often because we are helping our planet.”